Monday, January 16, 2017

The Great Rescue Mission - Homily for the 2nd Sunday in OT (A)

Usually by this point in the year, I’ve become rather tired of winter. And seeing ice on the trees doesn’t help very much. I’m ready to go outside, ride a bike, and so on. For some of us, that tired, restless feeling is not just in the winter, but in life in general. I know of many who are feeling burned out or whose faith feels dry. Some battle the winter doldrums and feel a kind of blegh about things.

Beyond the environmental and sometimes psychological causes behind these things, there can be another reason: sometimes, we lose our meaning and mission in life.

Having a meaning and a mission in life is so important. It gives us direction, satisfaction, a general enjoyment about what we’re doing and where we are going.

But what is our mission? What is our meaning?

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In our readings today, we see five men. Each are called, each are given a mission where they will find meaning. We see John the Baptist and Paul and Isaiah and David and… Sosthenes. (I don’t know… I assume his parents loved him…)

Each one of these were called. Paul was called to be an apostle; Isaiah, a prophet; John, the forerunner of the Christ. Notice: John the Baptist wasn’t called to be a writer of the Gospels, nor an apostle. He was called to just do one thing and do it well: announce and then point out the Messiah. That’s it. And there was great meaning in that mission.

For us, we often think that we have to do everything. We see the world and the Church and, to some degree our families—we see that some things are a mess. And we want to do something about that. And we also have our jobs. Aaaaand our responsibilities at home. Aaaand trying to pray. And who wouldn’t get burned out by trying to do it all?

Sometimes, we just have to return to the basics and ask, “For what purpose has God placed me on this earth?” And God has an answer for all of us. Each of us has a mission. And in that mission we will find great satisfaction and enjoyment in its meaning.

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Before we can talk about our mission, however, let us for a moment remember that we are many parts in one body. Whatever our mission is, we must first recall that we will need to work together as one—as one body with many parts. In the body, a foot is not a hand and a hand is not a heart. But each is essential and has a mission. So, too, in our Church and the world, each of us is essential and has a mission—and we need to stop trying to do what God gives others to do and do what we need to do.

If there is going to be harmony and growth in our lives, our homes, our parish, and society, we need to see correct order and functioning of each person in the mission God gives them. Again: Paul an apostle, David a king, Sosthenes a humble worker, …

Consider for a moment those men as part of a great military force.

Any good and powerful military will have its proper divisions while remaining united. Each person knows their skill, their talent, and employs it well for the victory. Generals that try to be a common infantryman and a common infantryman that pretends to be a general are not only failing in their mission, but they are doing harm to the body at large. We can say the same about the Church.

For example: the religious are like the heavy artillery whose prayers and sacrifices come from the hidden waters or mountains and provide us cover and the ground on which to advance. Without the artillery—without the religious—there is no victory.

The priests are like the lieutenants who help lead and do so oftentimes on the front lines of the battle—and unto death.

The married and the single in the world—well, their roles are as varied and essential as the prophets, priests, and kings that we see in today’s readings. For example:

The man who sits in the boardroom and who advances an economic strategy for his company that upholds the dignity of the human person and the living wage of workers—or the scientist or the doctor who stand up for the eternal moral principles that guard the beginnings of life and its end… These men are the Navy Seals in this military: cunning, skilled, knowledgeable, and effective.

The man who works among the vulgar swearing or the sexual bragging of his coworkers—and yet remains pure and begins to pray the Rosary for them—that man is the Marine winning God’s glory for himself and his brothers.

The person who is in the hospital or at home, sick and suffering, but nevertheless turns to God and says, “Father, turn this suffering into grace for some soul out there in need of mercy”—that person is the medic bringing the saving grace and the strength of God’s healing balm to the weak, wounded, and in need of rescue.

The teenager—the teenager who invites a friend to the faith, who speaks the truth at school, who chooses virtue at the party, and then comes home and does their duty—this is the undercover spy that the world. Never. Sees. Coming. And you’re going to change the world!

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This is the New Evangelization. At the heart of the New Evangelization is the call for us to return to the basics—to see the talents and the mission that God has given us and to faithfully live them out in our daily service to the Gospel and the Kingdom of God to which God calls us.

And to that call we respond as obedient sons and daughters: “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will!”

At the heart of this is that priests become priests again and men become men again. Priests aren’t called to do everything. We aren’t called to be business men or orators or psychologists—although we will make use of such things. Priests are called to bless their people, to absolve, to offer sacrifice, to teach, to protect, and—if necessary—to die for the flock. His mission is clear and simple: be a shepherd. And what great meaning there is there!

So, too, for the Catholic man. His mission is simple: to bring his family and his co-workers to heaven; to stand up for the True and the Good; and to die for it if necessary. In other words: to pick up the Cross in life and to carry it into battle. And there is a great battle before us—it is already claiming so many of our families and our faith!

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Let me throw out a stat: right now, some 80% of our brothers have been neutralized on the battlefield of life. For 80% of our brothers, the battle has been overwhelming. They have lost the faith. They have lost their mission and their meaning. Radical feminism and its Gospel of Contraception have rendered them impotent. Porn and selfish pursuits have alienated them not only from the lady in their lives but from their children and even their brothers here. Poor education and absent fathers have rendered them ignorant and powerless to pass on the faith to their sons and daughters—even less to defend them. Yes, they send their kids to Catholic School or PSR, but where are they today when their General is calling them to arms? In conversation with them and as I see their skeptical look upon me, I know that they can no longer distinguish friend from foe.

This is No Man’s Land.

No Man’s Land is the middle of the battlefield where the wounded lay howling and where the dead lay rotting. That’s where our brothers are. I have many beautiful young ladies asking me: “Father, where are all the good men?” That's where they are: in No Man’s Land.

I point this out not to critique or condemn or judge or lament. But to spur us on. For, we have a great rescue mission before us today. This is our mission in the New Evangelization: to seek out and to save what was lost. Yes, this is a great rescue mission!

And it doesn’t require much from us. It just requires us to put our talents to the service of this goal. If you are good at economics or science or law, simply do that-- and do it to advance the Gospel and to witness at your work! If you are good at sitting for an hour or two in adoration of the Eucharist, then simply do that! Not everyone can sit or kneel for two hours—so do that for the glory of God! If you are suffering, suffer well for the salvation of souls. If you are a teacher… a teen… a priest… a widow… Everyone here has a talent and a mission! You are not too young nor too old to stand up and say, “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will!”

And His Will is that we bring home that 80%.

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And can you imagine what it would be like with them here? We would need a bigger parish church—and that’s saying something!

Take this under consideration: each one of those who are not here—each one of them has talents and a mission too. Out there in No Man’s Land, there are Apostles and Navy Seals, Scientists and Prophets, Marines and Medics, Religious and Husbands, Priests and Kings….

All of them and all of us are called to that holiness of life that shines in the darkness. A life that inspires by its virtue and its proclamation of the True.

And please note: This is NOT an ideal. This is NOT an ideal. This is NOT an ideal!

This is our duty.

It’s not Mission: Impossible. It is a mission that is already guaranteed victory by Jesus Christ, Our Savior, in whom nothing is impossible!

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And please, please, always remember: You are not alone.

Never let yourself fall into the devil’s trap where you think that you’re the only one out there… The only one who is remaining faithful.... That you're the only one who actually believes everything that Jesus and His Church teach about fertility and family and marriage. You are not alone! You are not the only one who is praying the Rosary and going to Holy Mass. You are not the only one who is praying for you and your family.

Do not let yourself think that you’re the only one battling in this life. Because, if you start thinking that you’re the only one, you’re going to get discouraged. And you’re going to start thinking that you have to do everything. And you’re gonna get burned out. And your faith will become dry…

Remember, therefore, that by your side, you have brothers and sisters in the faith here with you now. I am with you. He *pointing to the Crucifix* is with you. The faithful at ICD and J&A—all of the parishes here in St. Louis—they are with you. In all 50 States, in all the countries of the world—from England to India, from Nigera to Korea—Catholics are praying for you and you for them. Holy angels and your guardian angels and the Archangels… the Saints, our friends!... the Blessed Mother! Ask them all for help. For they are with you!

Let us begin again this great mission. Let us use our talents for the glory of God. It is a great and glorious thing, this life is. So let us begin! Pray for me. I am praying for you.

“Grace to you. And peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

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